Switch off before you burn out
Earlier this year, I went to Vienna for a long weekend away. I took my work phone just for emergencies and, on the second morning, while waiting for my wife to get ready, I made a terrible mistake. I had a glance at my emails and Slack messages.
I was convinced that keeping an eye on what was going on would make my life easier when I got back. Instead, I saw a few messages that I read as “AHHH! Will help, we can’t cope without you.”
I fired off a load of messages in response to people in the team to find out more, give advice, and try to solve the problems. No-one responded immediately, and I then spent the rest of my time off worrying about these issues rather than enjoying my holiday.
They didn’t respond immediately because they were busy resolving the issues, and there wasn’t much I could do to help from Austria.
When I got back, I didn’t feel refreshed or like I’d had a proper break. So, I decided I needed to make some changes.
My five tips for maintaining a good work/life balance.
1. Keep your personal phone personal
Don’t have Slack or work emails on your personal device. Okay, if you ignored that, at least turn off notifications on evenings, weekends, and especially on holiday.
2. Only use your work phone in work hours
Turn your work phone to silent when you get home and leave it in your bag.
3. Leave your work laptop at work
Don’t take your laptop home unless you’re working from home. That’ll stop any temptations to check it when you should be relaxing.
4. Be contactable if urgent
Give your personal number to a select number of people who will only contact you about work if it’s an absolute emergency.
5. Accept that you’re not as important as you think you are
This one’s the hardest one, and it may sound negative, but it’s honestly refreshing. Don’t think that you have to solve every problem. Have trust in your team to deal with issues if you’re not there. Let them do their thing.
I now enjoy my weekends and holidays more, and I’m more productive at work as I don’t burnout.